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Two rows of people. In the first row, there are seven young women. And in the back there are three women and four men.

Eight female engineering students at Texas A&M University were recently accepted into the competitive Clare Boothe Luce Scholars Program, which provides funding for undergraduate research to talented female engineering students.

The $250,000 grant was awarded to Texas A&M’s Women in Engineering program this year in recognition of the College of Engineering’s commitment to supporting women’s pursuits in academia and research. The program benefits undergraduate students by providing an opportunity to pursue research for three years. It also helps better prepare them for future academic success in graduate school. 

“The Women in Engineering program is proud to offer support for students pursuing research opportunities leading to graduate degrees,” said Shawna Fletcher, director of WE.  “This is the first time the WE program has been able to work closely with faculty and departments over a three year period. Students in the Clare Boothe Luce Scholars program will be able to choose complex research projects and showcase their findings during Research Week, and possibly have their work published.”

Fletcher said the students will be able to grow as professionals during this experience.

Established by Clare Boothe Luce in 1987, the grant provided $7 million in funding to support women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, with 23 grant awards this past year. These grants will provide opportunities and support for 89 women across the country in schools such as Johns Hopkins University and Dartmouth College, as well as the eight students from Texas A&M.

The Clare Boothe Luce grant provides stipends for students to perform up to 20 hours per week in research labs during the fall and spring semesters for three years. The WE program is targeting freshman and sophomore students with an interest in research that will lead them to pursue graduate education.

The following students have been accepted into the program:

Julia Billman, mentored by Dr. Patrick Shamberger, assistant professor, materials science and engineering

Billman, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, is interested in studying alternative energy efficiency models for refrigeration and cooling vapor compression cycles with magnetocaloric allows.

Shelby Warrington, mentored by Dr. Astrid Layton, assistant professor, mechanical engineering

Warrington, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, will be researching the efficiency of man-made ecosystems that have been adapted to closely mimic nature.

Breanna Bassett, mentored by Dr. Natarajan Gautam, professor, industrial and systems engineering

Bassett, a junior industrial and systems engineering major, will be using research simulations and mathematical analysis to study the efficiency of assembly lines in order to find more effective ways to make general systems run smoothly without sacrificing cost or safety.

Bailey Brawley, mentored by Dr. Tim Jacobs, professor, mechanical engineering

Brawley, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, will be conducting research on supermileage vehicles. She will be focusing on engine modification, seeking feasible ways increase fuel efficiency. 

Tennille Faber, mentored by Dr. Mark Holtzapple, professor, chemical engineering

Faber, a sophomore chemical engineering major, will be using the MixAlco process to increase the rate, yield and product concentration of biofuels.

Libby Fears, mentored by Dr. Michael Moreno, assistant professor, mechanical engineering

Fears, a sophomore interdisciplinary engineering major, will be conducting research into prosthetic limbs, and seeking a way to connect blood vessels into the artificial limb for comfort and user confidence.

Camella Carlson, mentored by Dr. Kristen Maitland, associate professor, biomedical engineering

Carlson, a sophomore biomedical engineering major, will be researching ways to detect tuberculosis (TB) using remote enzyme fluorescence. By refining a probe, Carlson hopes that TB bacteria could be tagged with a fluorescence that emits a signal when imaged with certain wavelengths of light.

Amanda Rakoski, mentored by Dr. Daniel Alge, assistant professor, biomedical engineering

Rakoski, a sophomore biomedical engineering major, will be developing a tissue-engineered model to study breast cancer cells in a microenvironment similar to body tissue. Ultimately, creating a synthetic scaffold could lead to the development of better therapeutics for treating breast cancer and more effective ways of approaching future cancer research.